Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine may be hot on the trail of a new cure for baldness, following their discovery of a link between male pattern baldness and the protein prostaglandin D synthase.
Scientists have long understood that both genetic factors and testosterone play a role in male pattern balding, but until now, their exact role in the process remained unclear. The discovery made at Penn might help explain the process. In their experiments, scientists bred a test group of captive mice to have high levels of prostaglandin. These mice eventually went completely bald, and human hairs that were transplanted onto these mice eventually stopped growing.
This study builds on another study by Perelman School researchers, published in January 2011, which found that balding may be caused by stem cell inactivation in hair follicles. Both studies were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
There’s still a ways to go before guys like me start to get their hair back, but further research and clinical studies could eventually lead to a treatment based on inhibiting prostaglandin binding to hair follicle receptors. “The next step would be to screen for compounds that affect this receptor and to also find out whether blocking that receptor would reverse balding or just prevent balding – a question that would take a while to figure out,” lead researcher George Cotsarelis said to BBC News.
According to Penn Medicine News, approximately 80 percent of men under age 70 experience male pattern balding.
Penn Medicine News published this video along with a report on the study:
News of the discovery has hit the Twitter feed, and is a cause for celebration or comfort for some follicly-challenged Tweeps:
I wish we would stop doing research on preventing male baldness. Just let me go bald and let nature take its course.
So, I said to prostaglandin D synthase… No!